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Strengthening the Role of Cities in Coastal West Africa to Address Hate, Extremism and Polarisation Through Enhanced National-Local Cooperation

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— 3 minutes reading time

On 11 – 12 October 2023, the Strong Cities Network convened more than 40 mayors and other city officials, civil society organisations (CSOs) and national government actors from Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Togo to discuss how city-led efforts to prevent and respond to the increasingly localised threats posed by hate, extremism and polarisation can be advanced through enhanced national-local cooperation (NLC) in each country.

Supported by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the workshop was the second in a series[1] to raise awareness and promote the application of the NLC Implementation Toolkit, which Strong Cities developed on behalf of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) to facilitate the localised operationalisation of the GCTF’s 13 good practices on strengthening NLC in prevention and countering violent extremism (P/CVE). The Toolkit was launched on 19 September 2023 on the margins of the opening of the 78th UN General Assembly in New York.

In her opening remarks, Berenice Owen-Jones, Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, reinforced Australia’s commitment to addressing the growing threat of terrorism and extremism in West Africa and emphasised the importance of partnerships and collaboration across all levels in meeting this threat. Speaking on behalf of the Mayor of Accra, Douglas N.K. Annoful, Chief Coordinating Director of Accra’s Metropolitan Assembly, shared some of the work his city is doing to work in partnership with different actors across levels and their commitment to pursuing a whole-of-society approach in the city. In his welcome remarks, Colonel Tim Bataabana, Director of the Fusion Centre of Ghana’s Ministry of National Security, provided an overview of the threat picture facing the region.

Using the NLC Toolkit as the framework, workshop participants identified the gaps and opportunities in the region to promote a whole-of-society approach to preventing hate, extremism and polarisation. The workshop included a series of plenary discussions and small group table-top-exercises to explore each of the Toolkit’s six pillars individually and reflect on varied approaches to strengthening NLC to support more effective and sustainable city- and other locally-led prevention efforts. In addition to enriching the discussions, these insights will feed into the regional NLC mapping currently being conducted by Strong Cities’ local partner, the West Africa Centre for Counter-Extremism (WACCE).

Key findings from the workshop included:

[1] The first NLC workshop was held in Montenegro with local and national actors from around the Western Balkans. The third will be organised in the MENA Region in late 2023 or early 2024.


Event Report